Skyway drunk driver’s blood alcohol level was 3 times the legal limit

A soldier who responded said the driver provided a breath sample nearly six hours after the accident and was still tested over the limit.

PALMETTO, Fla. — New details have emerged of the drunk driver charged in the crash that seriously injured a Florida Highway Patrol trooper protecting runners at nearby Skyway 10K.

Kristen Kay Watts, a 52-year-old Sarasota woman, was charged with two counts of impaired driving causing damage to property or person, two counts of reckless driving causing damage to property or a person and DUI causing serious bodily harm.

On Tuesday, court records show Watts waived a formal arraignment and pleaded not guilty to all charges stemming from the crash that occurred on the Manatee County side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge during the Skyway 10K race event. .

The arrest report was also released, detailing the times Watts got out of her car seconds after the crash and “started to trip.” According to the report, Watts attempted to get into her car and law enforcement eventually subdued her before giving the woman medical attention.

An FHP sergeant said he smelled alcohol on Watt’s breath when he met her at the hospital, according to the report. Watts was yelling at a state trooper and even tried to shoot them, but missed, investigators said.

The report says Watts had slurred speech, yelled at medical personnel trying to treat her, and was unable to tell the soldier her whereabouts.

Medical personnel later told law enforcement that Watt had a medical blood alcohol level of .271, more than three times the legal drinking limit, the report said.

Later, when Watts was released from Bayfront Health, she was arrested and transported to the Manatee County Jail, according to court records. There, the report says she provided another breath sample using a breathalyzer – nearly six hours after the crash – and showed a blood alcohol level of 0.094. She reportedly tested again a few minutes later and it showed 0.090.

That Sunday, authorities charged Watts with driving through traffic cones and bypassing barricades set up to prevent drivers from heading north on Interstate 275 for the fifth annual Skyway 10K event. At around 8:45 a.m., she drove through the closed toll plaza on the Manatee County side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, according to the Florida Highway Patrol in an earlier report.

Seeing the car approaching, FHP Sgt. Steve Gaskins radioed two soldiers and others to intercept him and protect the thousands of runners on the bridge. Two of the soldiers stopped on the roadway, using their cruisers as physical barriers to prevent Watts from potentially walking into attendees, FHP said.

Investigators say Watts’ 2011 BMW 335i ultimately crashed almost head-on with the SUV being driven by one of the two soldiers. The BMW reportedly caught fire briefly.

Toni Schuck, the soldier injured in the crash, has been with FHP for 26 years. She is now at home recovering from a concussion and a head injury that required stitches. The injuries are expected to cause permanent scars to the head and face.

“On behalf of the Skyway 10K, we are beyond grateful to our law enforcement partners and the soldier who risked his life to keep our race participants safe,” said the event organizer. , James Judge, in a statement earlier this week. “We are extremely grateful to the Florida Highway Patrol and all of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, not only for providing layers of security for this event, but also for the sacrifices they are making. every day.”

Anyone wishing to contact Schuck can send their thoughts to his attention at the Florida Highway Patrol, 11305 North McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612 or visit the FLHSMV and FHP social media pages.